Once A Day

Nick West's reviews for Bucketfull Of Brains and Rock'N'Reel

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Location: London, United Kingdom

Co-editor and publisher of Bucketfull Of Brains since 1996.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


EMILY HAINES & THE SOFT SKELETON

KNIVES DON”T HAVE YOUR BACK

(DROWNED IN SOUND)

Emily Haines is the singer with Metric and also in Broken Social Scene. Her father was Paul Haines, beat poet and librettist of the early 70s avant-jazz opera Escalator Over The Hill. This solo album, recorded piecemeal over the last five years with band mates, Scott Minor from Sparklehorse, and a string quartet is introspective and self-exploratory. Whether it’s an exploration anyone else would wish to share is a moot point.

Haines sings and plays rudimentary piano, and it appears everything else is then added. Her voice is stark but without too much character; it seems for a brief moment in the opening ‘Our Hell’ that she’s going to take on an interesting Lucinda Williams-like gruffness but that quickly passes. Lyrically it’s just not engaging. Lines like “Doctor Blind just prescribe the red ones”, “There’s a new crime, sexual suicide”, not to mention the sleeve image of a bottle of pills, suggest affectation and too much time with Sylvia Plath. Her father’s interesting lyric for ‘Sprig’ comes way too late, final track of fourteen, to save the proceedings.

That may seem harsh especially given two of these songs, ‘Reading In Bed’ and ‘Mostly Waving’, are responses to the 2002 death of her father, yet were it not for external information you wouldn’t realise it. In truth the only reason I’d return to this is my respect for Robert Wyatt whose glowing approbation appears on the insert.

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